Why running Windows 8 on a Mac is better than running it on a PC

How running Windows 8 on OS X Mavericks gives me the best of both worlds, and brings back a Windows feature that I've sorely missed.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

I've made no secret of the fact that OS X has replaced Windows as my primary platform to do day-to-day work on. The reasons are many and varied (and of you want the long story I suggest you check out this post) but the TL;DR version of it is that with Windows 8 Microsoft took the platform in a direction that wasn't compatible with what I wanted from an operating system.

Note: For the purposes of this piece I'll be referring to Windows 8, but everything applies equally to Windows 8.1.

However, this doesn't mean that I've managed to purge the PC Doc HQ of Windows.

Far from it.

While OS X Mavericks does an admirable job of handling what I want from a platform, I still need Windows, and have a variety of versions installed on machines, both physical and virtual.

I also have Windows 8 installed on my Mac, running through the excellent Parallels Desktop 9 application. There are a number of products on offer that will allow you to do this (not to mention Apple's own Boot Camp software), but I've gone with Parallels Desktop 9 because it gives me the best performance and battery life. On top of that I've got Windows isolated inside a virtual machine, and have the ability to take system snapshots and roll back to earlier configuration when things go wrong.

Now so far running Windows on OS X doesn't given me any more than running Windows on Windows would give me (other than the different host OS) but there's another feature of Parallels Desktop 9 which, in my opinion, makes running Windows 8 on OS X much than running it on a PC.

Let me show you what it is:

A Windows Start menu on OS X

Yes, that's a Start menu, built into the OS X Dock, along the same lines as the Start menu that Microsoft decided to remove from Windows 8. And while it looks and feels much like the Start menu that I grieve for, it has an added super power – the ability to fire up my Windows virtual machine and load the application up in a matter of seconds.

The whole experience has also been a very seamless one. Not once have I had to futz about with drivers, and not once have I had everything come crashing down around me when an application decides to misbehave.

So I get OS X and Windows, I have the comforting feeling of having Windows isolated from everything else, and I get an adequate replacement for the Start menu.


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